New gaming software improves students' math scores

Published: Apr. 21, 2012 at 6:04 PM HST
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By: Denise Yuki

WAIPAHU (HawaiiNewsNow)-Loud cheers emanated from Waipahu High School's library Friday morning as the school held its 3rd Annual Math Video Game Tournament.

The video game used in the tournament is part of an online, educational multi-player program called DimensionU. Students go head-to-head using Algebra skills they've acquired in order to advance through timed 'missions.' To win, players must navigate through a series of mathematical obstacles and score the most points.

The high-energy and noise levels would have any passerby assume that the school was holding a pep rally or sporting event.

"Over the years I've had teachers and students come to the library in the middle of their class just to see what all the noise was about," said math teacher and tournament coordinator, Amelia Cook.

Which goes to show how excited students are about the new addition to their math program.

"Traditional math is boring. You're just looking at books. But this is really fun because it's exciting, it gets my heart pounding," said Freshman Kianna Teehara.

The students' improved math scores are cause for excitement amongst the teachers as well.

"We've used it for our sophomores so that we can help them meet proficiency, and they scored pretty high,"said Cook. "We've had about 80 percent of our students who attended our 'DimensionU Camp' during the winter break increase their scores, and about 42 percent of those students met proficiency on the HSA (Hawaii State Assessment)."

"I noticed that students who are struggling in math really commit the time to come in and practice and get really good at it, so they can actually win and score the points."

The program is available to anyone with Internet access, where students can also challenge international players. So far Waipahu is the only campus in Hawaii that holds DimensionU tournaments.

"I would like to open it up to other schools in the state and have a Hawaii tournament," said Cook.

Video games plus math don't usually equal straight A's. But with the implementation of DimensionU, teachers and students at Waipahu High School seem to have found a way to balance that equation.

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